We all know how to dye Easter eggs. I mean, geez, you just have to read the directions on the Paas package, right?!? Hmph.
But some of us aspire to the Sandra Lee brand of semi-homemade, eschewing such blatant ready-made-ness, and will want to dye our eggs without the help of a package. If you're dyeing at home, you can go with food coloring, or go completely crazy and use natural dyes.
Dyeing with food coloring has some benefits because food coloring can make your eggs extremely bright and colorful, like no egg that could come naturally out of a chicken. (Not that anything besides light blue and beige would come out of a chicken anyway.) I mean, haven't you seen the magic of 1 oz. of red food coloring in a red velvet cake?To dye with food coloring, start with hard boiled eggs. For every 1 c. of hot water, add 1/2 tsp. plain white vinegar, and drops of food coloring to the color intensity your desire. Be miserly with your drops. One drop of red food coloring can go a long way. By the way, in case you're not familiar with the Roy G. Biv, red and yellow make orange, yellow and blue make green (but you should know that from Ziploc!), red and blue make purple. Mix them all together and you get "mud."
Natural dyes are where Easter egg dyeing gets fun and interesting. Think of every food stain you've ever made on your crisp white linen shirt. Though most of us are used to dyeing eggs that have already been hard-boiled, particularly useful when making this a kids' activity, dyeing with natural dyes works better when the dye is allowed to boil with the eggs as they are cooking. It makes the dyes a deeper color, and is faster than waiting for the eggs to pick up the dye in a refrigerator overnight. However, it doesn't have to be done this way, though there are a few natural items that do require boiling regardless.
To dye Easter eggs naturally, place eggs in a single layer in the bottom of a pan. Fill with water to just cover the eggs, and try to estimate about how much water you added. For each 1 c. of water, add 1 tsp. white vinegar. Add the food/dye (listed below), bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a very very gentle simmer, just as you would to make regular hard-boiled eggs. Cook the eggs and dye this way for 15 minutes. Remove the eggs to dry. If you want the eggs to be a darker, deeper color, replace the eggs in the dye/water and let sit (off the heat) until the eggs reach the desired intensity. Just be forewarned that cooking with the dye means you may cook the eggs for longer than you normally would for a regular boiled egg, which might make them not so delicious for an egg salad sandwich afterwards.
If you're doing it with already hard-boiled eggs, just use the same ratios of water and vinegar, the dye, and let the eggs sit until they color.
- Lavender: purple grape juice, violet blossoms
- Violet/Blue: violet blossoms, or a few skins of red onions (these have to be boiled)
- Blue: blueberries, red cabbage leaves (must be boiled), or purple grape juice
- Green: spinach leaves (must be boiled)
- Green/ Yellow : boiled with peels of a Yellow Delicious apple
- Yellow: boiled with orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed, ground cumin, or ground turmeric
- Orange: boiled with paprika
- Brown: very strong coffee, instant coffee, boiled with black walnut shells
- Orange/Yellow: boiled with yellow onion skins
- Pink: beets, cranberries, cranberry juice, raspberries, red grape juice, juice from pickled beets
- Red: boiled with red onion skins
I can only imagine that dipping your eggs into a Cabernet Sauvignon would dye it a deep, delicious wine-y red, but I haven't tried it.